Zuppa di Ceci – Chickpea Soup

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Italian chickpea soup

Ingredients – Makes enough for 4 portions

  • 160g smoked pancetta cubes (Optional)
  • 1 large clove of Garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp of dried oregano
  • 100g fresh tomatoes roughly chopped into small pieces
  • 2 x bunches of green swiss chard or spinach , washed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 x 400g cooked chickpeas with the water in the tin or fresh if you have the time
  • 100g broken pieces of spaghetti (Optional)

To finish

  • 1 tsp of dried oregano
  • 50g strong cheese e.g. Pecorino, Ragusano or Parmesan
  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Sea salt  & freshly ground black pepper

A warming yet fresh chickpea soup which is great for eating all year round.

Very much the flavours of our Nonno’s cooking and now Emilia’s go to dish when feeling nostalgic.

Nonno used to break in pieces of broken spaghetti to this dish too, to make it more filling for 3 young growing granddaughters. The leftover pack of dried spaghetti always found in the back of the cupboard which was never quite enough to use for a portion of pasta was brought to the front of the queue and used to break into little pieces to never let anything go to waste.

This recipe has pancetta but it can be made vegetarian without the meat and also vegan without the meat and cheese! All depends on what you fancy and your preferences.


If using the pancetta, take a large saucepan and add the cubes of pancetta into the saucepan, turn on the heat to a medium flame and start to cook the pancetta. Once the pancetta is golden and cooked add in the finely chopped garlic clove and the oregano and fry until the garlic is very lightly golden.

If not using the Pancetta add in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add in the garlic and oregano, turning on the  heat to a low flame and fry until the garlic is very lightly golden.

Add in the chopped tomatoes and begin to fry, adding in the tomatoes at this point also helps to stop the cooking of the garlic. Then add in the chopped swiss chard or spinach and stir well seasoning with a pinch of salt.

Add in the 2 x cans of chickpeas with the water from the can (use the cooking water if cooking from fresh). Using the chickpea cans fill each can with water (around 1/2 litre in total) and add into the saucepan, cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes.  Tip* to add more flavour use chicken or veg stock in place of the water.

After 15 minutes if using add in the pasta, stir and cook for 7- 10 minutes with the lid on, if needed add more water to help cook the pasta.

Once cooked, leave the soup to stand for 5 minutes and then season with more dried oregano, ground black pepper and grated cheese of your choice and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Buon Appetito!